Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk

I can't get over the loss of my stillborn son

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 20 January 2017
Dear Patricia Marie, 

I have just watched Coronation Street and am in floods of tears, because in this episode Michelle gave birth to a stillborn baby. It brought back traumatic memories of my own stillborn son five years ago. The acting was so believable, and when Michelle said her heart was breaking, that's exactly how it felt for me. In fact, despite being told time would heal my pain, I have never got over my broken heart.

Three years ago, I went on to have a daughter whom I adore, but I just can't move on from the loss of my beautiful baby boy. My husband struggles with this too, and if I do try to open up to him, he just dismisses my feelings. Neither can I talk to my to friends and family, as they seem uncomfortable speaking about my loss, which really infuriates me.

I never had counselling at the time because I believed it would be a waste of time as this could not bring my son back. Will I ever get over the loss of my son, and when will this intolerable pain go?

Patricia Marie says...

Time is a healer, but healing arises through the coming to terms with your own personal grief, and you need an outlet through which this can occur. Coronation Street has gripped the nation with this powerful storyline, and as much as this has ignited painful memories for you, it could well be the spark that encourages you to seek professional help. SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity) is a helpline for those affected by the death of a baby. As well as being able to offer support, they can also help organise some counselling. Don't dismiss this, as you could find the results extremely beneficial. Group therapy in particular could make you feel better understood, and supportive friendships could be forged through sharing similar experiences.

Try not to be too hard on your family and friends. It's not uncommon for those closest to pull away during a grieving period, particularly when the loss is that of a child. This is unlikely to be because they don't care, but perhaps because they are upset too, and may even feel guilty that they have children who are alive and well. Tell them you need to talk and acknowledge your son, as even if they just listen, this should make a huge difference to how you are currently feeling.

Actress Kym Marsh, who herself gave birth to a stillborn son in 2009, said she had wanted these latest harrowing episodes to encourage those affected by stillbirth to speak out, and hopefully also enable friends and families of bereaved parents to gain a better understanding too. The programme also drew attention to the fact that parents cannot be given a birth certificate if the child is born dead before 24 weeks of pregnancy. SANDS, which worked alongside Coronation Street scriptwriters, has stated that many hospitals are now issuing certificates of birth for these children, to allow parents a keepsake. They added that if a hospital does not do this, parents can provide a certificate themselves for hospital officials to sign. The soap has been praised for increasing awareness of stillbirth, and for hopefully prompting a debate to change the law regarding birth certificates in such cases.

Don't suffer in silence anymore. You have been brave in sharing your story with me, and I hope you will now get the help you very much deserve. Have faith that your broken heart will heal through the nurturing process of opening up, and finally being able to express how you really feel.

Sands: helpline@uk-sands.org  020 7436 5881
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My mum tries to take over my daughter's upbringing

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 13 January 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

I have a beautiful one year old baby girl whom I adore. However I split with my boyfriend, her father, soon after I became pregnant, and he has nothing to do with our baby, which has caused my mum to be extremely upset, as she never wanted me to be a single mum.

I can cope with this, but what I am struggling with is the way she tries to take over my daughter's upbringing. It is her first grandchild and she is so over protective. She lives close by and is always popping round, sometimes at the most inconvenient time, being very critical of the way I am raising my little girl, and insisting she knows best. My dad can be a little interfering too, but he knows when to stop, unlike mum.

I believe I am a good mum, as my baby is developing well and is really happy, but my mum seems to think she has a right to dictate every aspect of her life. How can I explain to her the way I am feeling without hurting her feelings?


Patricia Marie says...

Having a baby in the family can be an exciting time for everyone, and you wouldn't want unnecessary conflict to take away that joy. Try to consider that grandparents generally mean well and just want to make sure their grandchildren are well cared for. It may be a while since your parents looked after a baby, but keep in mind there is a great deal to be said for experience. Stay open-minded, as some of their suggestions and advice may actually be very helpful.

Your mum may particularly be wanting to take good care of you both as your boyfriend isn't around. Explain to her that you value and appreciate her opinion, but ask her to understand that you might have a different way of doing things, and could she please respect this. Speak from the heart and tell her that you are wanting to adapt a routine for you and the baby, so could she please try to call before she visits. Perhaps it could be a good idea in future, when she gives you advice, to listen with a smile - and then do what you feel best. However, try and see things from your mum's perspective, as one day your own daughter may have children herself, then you will become the doting grandmother. Do remember also that no matter how old the children, a mother's love and protective instinct never wanes.
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A New Year's Message

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Tuesday, 03 January 2017
Yet again the world of pop is in mourning, this time for musical genius George Michael after he died on Christmas Day, aged just 53. Since the shocking news of music legend David Bowie back in January, we've had to endure the deaths of a multitude of high profile celebrities and musicians, including the utterly unique artist Prince, and most recently, actress Carrie Fisher, followed by her mother, Debbie Reynolds, the day after. All these losses have dominated the media, and, whilst it is reassuring to know that these huge stars were truly respected and admired, it can make it hard for us to escape our own painful emotions about their passing.

Even though we didn't know any of these famous people as well as those closest to them, they had been, and still are, a big part of our lives - the musicians whose records we remember from key moments in our past, the nation's favourite broadcaster, Terry Wogan, or Victoria Wood who over many years brought us much laughter. Indeed, the list goes on and on. However, be reminded that, although all these famous people are no longer with us, our memories of them will forever remain.

When celebrities die who have in the past brought us happiness, our grief is stronger because they have struck such a personal note within us. Many, particularly from the baby boom generation, feel that huge chapters from their youth have been lost. To some it's the end of the world, but for others it may have little or no impact. A lack of empathy from our friends and family can leave us feeling worse and unsupported, yet we can gain comfort by acknowledging the communal grief shown in the heartfelt messages and tributes throughout the media and social networks for each and every one of them.

The particularly high number of losses in 2016 highlights for us, especially those who have suffered their own personal and private loss, the need to embrace life, cherish every moment, and never take any situation for granted. Despite all the negative news that has engulfed us over the past 12 months, we have to believe that 2017 will be encouragingly positive. In George Michael's words - We Gotta Have Faith.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a very healthy and peaceful New Year.
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My grandchildren always expect big expensive presents from me

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 16 December 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,

My grandchildren always expect big expensive presents from me, but this year I just don't have the funds to spend as I used to. I don't even have enough money to buy my daughter and son-in-law a gift. I haven't told my daughter this, but I'm dreading Christmas Day because my son-in-law's parents are going to be there and I know they are very wealthy. I can't bear the idea that my grandchildren are going to be disappointed by my presents, which I still haven't purchased yet, or that they'll start to see me as the poor relation.

Patricia Marie says...

The festive season is upon us, and for lots of people this is an exciting and wonderful time of the year. But for the many others like yourself who can't afford Christmas, it can be particularly stressful and depressing. You must not allow yourself to feel guilty - you are not obliged to celebrate Christmas by someone else's standards, and your loved ones should be understanding and respectful of your situation.

Don't be too proud to admit to your daughter you're having a tough time. Simply be honest and ask her to suggest something reasonably priced that the children would really like. Even a nice book linked to their favourite character would thrill them. Children love looking at photographs, so perhaps you could make them their very own album, to include past and present family, which will give them great pleasure, and provide much enjoyment for the whole family.

With regards to your daughter and son-in-law, you could consider sending personal gift vouchers to include anything from an offer of 2 hours ironing, to a day of spring cleaning or an overnight stay of babysitting - treats which I am sure will be very well received, and highlighting that the best gifts do not have to have monetary value. 

As for trying to compete with your son-in-laws wealthier parents, do not waste another moment worrying about this. Grandchildren love their grandparents in their many varied forms, indeed it can be the most special relationship. The true meaning of Christmas runs far deeper than a present could ever compete. Spend quality time with your grandchildren, give your daughter a helping hand with the extra work Christmas brings and remind everyone that Christmas is about love, not spending power.

That's what your Grandchildren will remember in years to come - not some present, however lavish.
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I can't bear the thought of Christmas without my husband

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 08 December 2016
Dear Patricia Marie, 

I can't bear the thought of Christmas without my beloved husband, who died three months ago. Although I will be spending time with my son and his family at their home, I am going to be missing my husband so very much. 

What is the point of my life without him?  How do I even start to get on with my life now he is gone?

Patricia Marie says...

Dealing with the death of a loved one is an extremely difficult and traumatic experience, and the pain is significantly heightened at this time of year when others are joyously celebrating the festivities. It's not going to be easy this very first Christmas without your husband, but instead of focusing on life without him, perhaps allow yourself some time to remember the special times you enjoyed with him. I often suggest to those grieving to perhaps light a candle in memory of their loved ones, which can allow much comfort when one is feeling sad. When you visit your son this Christmas, take a photograph of your husband with you, and keep it nearby, so you are able to feel his presence, and as difficult as it may seem, ensure you open up to your family, as they care for you and will be conscious of your loss. At times you may feel overcome by emotion, but this is perfectly natural. Starting to address your grief, often through tears, does provide relief, and promote healing.   

Cruse Bereavement Care offer professional help and support, including group counselling which I feel could be particularly beneficial, allowing you to see that if others can make it through their losses, than so can you. Learning coping techniques may give you hope for the future, and, even better, supportive friendships could be forged, through experiences shared within the group.

At this moment you are clearly suffering, but you don't have to hurt forever or manage this alone. Be compassionate with yourself as you work to relinquish old routines and establish new ones. Life without your husband will inevitably be different, but, given time, you will hopefully soon realise your life is still very much worth living, and certainly not over.  

I recommend ‘Death And How To Survive It’ by Kate Boydell, a unique, practical and uplifting guide to coming to terms with the loss of a partner.   

Cruse Bereavement Care: www.cruse.org.uk/  Tel: 0844 477 9400 




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